Pupils and staff at Lynmore Primary School have taken an important celebration into their own hands and organised a surprise citizen awards ceremony for their principal.
Teacher Bernie Cunliffe, who is from South Africa, came up with the idea after discovering Lorraine Taylor had received her citizen's certificate in the mail due to Covid-19.
Bernie attended her own ''beautiful'' citizens ceremony about 10 years ago.
"That planted a seed with me. I wanted Lorraine to be able to experience that.''
She tabled the event with fellow staff and it snowballed, with students jumping on board making a paper feather each for a korowai (cloak).
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick was also called in to assist and last Friday a special surprise assembly was held to mark the milestone.
Lorraine told the Rotorua Daily Post she felt overwhelmed and the stunning korowai had taken pride of place in her office.
''I really was completely taken by surprise, I had no idea they were planning anything. It was amazing.''
''I've got my beautiful korowai on the wall here in my office. And honestly, it's the most precious thing.''
Lorraine immigrated from the United Kingdom 23 years ago and says the assembly was emotional, especially when the kapa haka pupils took to the stage.
''It was just incredible, I was shaking. I could feel the love.''
Mayor Chadwick says it was lovely to part of the school celebration for Lorraine's citizenship.
''I've known Lorraine for about 20 years so it was nice to be part of the surprise presentation at assembly – the kids were very excited that she is now officially a Kiwi.'
''Citizenship ceremonies are always very special and I feel very privileged to be part of that special journey in my role as mayor, meeting people from all over the world who have chosen New Zealand – and Rotorua – as home and appreciate the privilege of being here. It's always uplifting, often emotional for those receiving citizenship, and we hear some incredible stories.''
Since Chadwick became mayor in 2013 there have been about 10 citizenship ceremonies per year, with about 30 people awarded citizenship at each ceremony.
Due to Covid-19 there has just been one citizenship ceremony so far this year and certificates were being posted.